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Ma extends condolences to Soong over wife's death

President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday extended condolences to People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong over the death of his wife, Viola Chen.

Ma disclosed that he tried to come into contact with Soong soon after hearing the saddening news, but the PFP chairman was so disheartened that he declined to answer telephone calls.

Speaking during a visit to the southern county of Yunlin, Ma said he had asked PFP Secretary General Chin Chin-sheng to convey his condolences to Soong. Ma lauded Chen for her warm-heartedness.

Chen died of colon cancer at a hospital in Taipei on Friday at the age of 72.

Hualien County Magistrate Fu Kun-chi lamented the death of Chen, whom he described as a role model for society. He said of all the wives of government officials that he has known, Chen was the most friendly.

Fu said Chen had devoted a lot toward helping her husband, adding that she was a firm supporter of Soong during his long political career.

The magistrate said that he will go to Taipei to pay tribute to Chen in the next few days.

But he asked the general public to respect the family at this time of mourning.

Soong was the most prominent political star in the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) in 1990s.

After falling out with the KMT, he mounted an independent campaign and came close to becoming president in 2000, losing to Chen Shui-bian by a narrow margin. He then formed the PFP.

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